PCS Move to Offutt AFB? Your Comprehensive Guide to the Omaha Housing Market
A PCS move to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, takes many newcomers pleasantly by surprise. Located in America’s Heartland, Omaha offers a vibrant arts, culture, and music scene, with an impressive food and drink landscape, and has quickly become a culinary haven in the Midwest.
As one of the top 50 largest cities in America, Omaha frequently appears on “Best Cities” lists, consistently ranking well in high quality of life metrics, education, overall affordability, low cost of living, and best places to live for families. There’s a lot to love about Omaha!
Omaha, Nebraska. Photo from Canva.
Get to Know the Omaha Housing Market
Bound by the Missouri River to the right, Omaha’s building development has naturally progressed west, and continues to do so. As of the 2020 census, Omaha was the nation’s 40th-most populous city, with nearly half a million residents.
Most military members tend to gravitate to the southwest metro area, favoring Bellevue, Papillion, and La Vista for base access convenience, strong school districts, and shorter commutes. Some members look across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a lower property tax rate, while others favor the small-town vibe of Plattsmouth, Nebraska—a short commute south of Offutt.
Other popular family destinations include Chalco, Gretna, Elkhorn, and Bennington. Downtown’s Old Market, Dundee, and Aksarben neighborhoods are favorites for those looking for more nightlife options, with numerous apartment, townhome, and multi-family options available. (Fun fact: Aksarben is “Nebraska” spelled backwards.)
Along with most of the nation, existing homes sales dropped in comparison between 2022 and 2023, but the housing market remains tight in Omaha for both hopeful buyers and renters, with an approximate 2.6-month housing supply. The average home price for 2023 was about $310,000, and homes go under contract in approximately a week.
Offutt Housing Market Snapshot
Map from Military Town Advisor
By the numbers:
- Omaha Metro Area average home price: $310,000
- Average monthly rent, apartments: $1,145
- Average monthly rent, 3 BR House: $1797
- Sales listings typically go under contract in about 7 to 10 days.
Omaha Rent Data provided by Offutt Air Force Base Housing Relocation Assistance Pamphlet.
The rental market for single-family detached homes is very competitive, and listings tend to stay on the market for a week or less before leasing. BAH for Offutt is fairly competitive in market comparison. As examples, the E5 with Dependents Rate is $1,680, with an O3 With Dependents Rate of $1,983. Learn more about your installation’s BAH rates here.
Building development in the Omaha Metro Area was exceptionally strong in 2022, and the trend continues. Building permits issued in 2022 topped 3,284 for residential units, the second highest number of permits issued since 2005, with 64 percent (2,116) units designated to multi-family projects. (Source)
Would-be home buyers will have many options of new-build developments in addition to the existing home market. Schooling options and amenities are plentiful throughout the metro area, to include multiple grocery chains and supermarkets, restaurants, and numerous shopping centers.
Learn more about things to do in the Offutt AFB area.
Photo from Canva
Offutt AFB Area Schools
The Omaha Metro Area offers numerous well-rated public schools, in addition to private, charter, and homeschool options. Much of the installation’s housing options fall within the Bellevue Public School system, with some portions falling under the Papillion and La Vista School districts. Further west, families will find Millard, Westside, Gretna, and Elkhorn School districts, with Plattsmouth to the south.
- Bellevue Public Schools
- Elkhorn Public Schools
- Gretna Public Schools
- Millard Public Schools
- Omaha Public Schools
- Papillion / LaVista Schools
- Plattsmouth Community Schools
- Ralston Public Schools
- Westside Community Schools
Families are guaranteed enrollment in their assigned neighborhood school based upon their home address or may pursue “optional enrollment” to another school outside of their district if there is availability. Families desiring a guaranteed spot in a specific school district based upon individual student needs or specialized academic tracks may want to consider housing in that particular school district, as there is the risk of non-availability to option into a non-assigned district.
Tip: The Offutt School Liaison Program is a wealth of information to point parents in the right direction for their family’s educational needs.
Many schools offer specialized academic tracks with an impressive catalog of classes, to include STEM and AP courses, dual enrollment for college credit, and some offering various academies and career exploration opportunities.
Photo from Canva
Offutt AFB On-Base Housing Options, With Some Additional Considerations
Military housing on Offutt AFB is privatized and operated by Rising View Communities. There are approximately 1,950 homes with a number of floor plans and amenities to include playgrounds, parks, and trails.
There are three nuances that inbound families headed to Offutt will want to know in considering on-base housing.
A significant portion of homes are not actually located within the confines of Offutt AFB.
A deciding factor for some families is the desire to be “behind the fence” in selecting military housing, for a combination of factors including added security, convenience, and the camaraderie of the military family community. While not on the installation proper, the off-base portion of Rising View is conveniently located approximately three miles west of base via Capehart Road.
Your military housing neighbor might not be affiliated with the military.
While the majority of Rising View residents are military, occupancy (at present) is open to the public. Why, you may ask? Placement and eligibility for any military privatized housing is governed by eligibility, approval, but also on the project’s occupancy metrics.
As defined by Air Force guidelines, when the occupancy of a housing development falls below 98 percent, the installation and project owner may open eligibility to something called “Other Eligible Tenants” or OETs. The OET Category can range from activated National Guard and Reserve personnel, to Eligible Federal Civil Service employees, to Retirees, and in some cases, General Public.
Persons applying for military housing must still undergo screening and a background check and obtain clearance from the Installation Security Forces Squadron, to include all required National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and Interstate Identification Index (III), to be approved for placement in a home. (AFI 32-6000, Para. 6.12.2. Other Eligible Tenants)
Fences are an additional monthly fee and not included in the rent.
Residents desiring any fence, such as a fenced back yard, must first seek approval through Rising View to use one of their approved installation vendors, pay for the installation, then pay a monthly maintenance fee, which residents state averages approximately $45 dollars per month, a total of roughly $520 dollars annually. Residents are not required to install a fence.
(Rising View Resident Handbook, Page 12, Fences.)
Many families relocating to Offutt and seeking on-base housing happily find themselves at home within the Rising View communities, but it is worth knowing these considerations that are unique to base housing at Offutt.
Photo from Canva
Property Taxes And Sanitary and Improvement District (SID) Levies
Although Omaha, and Nebraska in general, enjoys a lower than average cost of living, area property taxes, unfortunately, are some of the highest in the nation. Sarpy County levies an average of 2.22 percent, with Douglas County a close competitor at 2.29 percent.
In addition to a high county-levied property tax assessment, a home may also be subject to a SID levy. Sanitary and Improvement Districts, SIDs, can be created when a building developer buys land for a new housing development and is used to pay for streets, sewer, utility installations, or parks.
Would-be buyers will want to thoroughly understand the current property tax rate in evaluating any home purchase, particularly if evaluating a new-build development area.
Photo from Shutterstock
New or Existing Build in the Omaha Area? Some Factors to Consider
With a booming new-build market in the Omaha area, many buyers may find themselves evaluating the appeal of a custom built new home over an existing home. Each option has their own appeal, with some factors to consider.
SID Tax LeviesNew developments will likely have a SID Levy, which can increase the bottom line on your mortgage payment by several hundred dollars per month. Existing homes may no longer be subject to a SID levy and, as a result, offer more housing bang for the buck.
Key questions to ask for any new development include:
- How many homes are in the development?
- What phase is the development in?
- When is the estimated completion date for builds?
A development that is only 10 percent built-out will be a much different seller’s market versus a development that is 90 percent built-out. Will your family be facing a PCS move before the development is finished? If so, what will make your home stand out from the competition, particularly if a would-be buyer can buy new? And will you run the risk of “over-improving” your home, making it the most expensive one on the block, and subsequently, more difficult to sell?
Weighing the Emotional RollercoasterFinding the existing built home of your dreams can quickly transform from a rush of heady adrenaline to acute disappointment in the emotional rollercoaster of making, then potentially losing, offers to other buyers. A build in a new development can offer significant peace of mind in locking down a home; you simply identify what build lots are available, your floorplan, customization, financing, and timeline.
Timeline to Move In
Perhaps the biggest drawback in evaluating a new build is the months-long timeline needed for construction, whereas most existing build homes will be ready for move-in within 30 to 45 days to generate the closure process.
Flooding Considerations and Insurance
The Omaha area has long been prone to dangerous flash flooding, the most recent severe storm occurring August 7, 2021. Several sectors of the metro area experienced catastrophic flooding, along with dozens of military buildings, and left Offutt’s runway under nine feet of water.
On February 17, 2022, FEMA released updated preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Omaha and portions of Douglas, Sarpy, and Cass Counties. Residents can determine flood risks by looking up the property’s street address in both The City of Omaha’s Planning Department and FEMA’s Map Service Center.
For those purchasing a newly constructed home, flood damage from the August 2021 storm will be a non-issue. Buyers considering a home built prior to August 2021 would be well-served by determining if the home’s address was vulnerable to the 2021 flood, in addition to conducting a thorough home inspection.
Additionally, flooding and storm surges are not typically covered perils in a standard home insurance policy and usually require an additional policy to ensure adequate coverage.
With no shortage of things to do, festivals, restaurants, shopping, and easy proximity to travel – military families and single servicemembers often quickly fall in love with Omaha.